Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) has decided it doesn't want customers with caffeinated trigger fingers bringing guns to its stores. CEO Howard Schultz sent an open letter to customers late on Tuesday (Sept. 17), requesting that patrons leave their firearms at home when visiting one of the chain's locations.
"Our stores exist to give every customer a safe and comfortable respite from the concerns of daily life," he said in the letter.
Schultz told Reuters that the decision was prompted by a rise in the number of customers bringing guns into Starbucks stores over the last six months. Traditionally, the coffee seller's policy has been to fall in line with local gun laws, even open carry regulations.
That stance has made Starbucks a battleground for activists on both sides of the gun debate, with some guns-rights advocates even staging "Starbucks Appreciation Day" events last month in support of the chain's policy.
"We've seen the 'open carry' debate become increasingly uncivil and, in some cases, even threatening," Schultz wrote. In a Reuters interview he added, "We found ourselves in a position where advocates on both sides of the issue were using Starbucks as a staging ground for their own political position."
Still, Schultz insists the timing of the letter has nothing to do with the "Starbucks Appreciation Day" events or the shootings this week at the Washington Navy Yard. It's also important to point out that Starbucks is not banning customers who carry guns, who will still be served, and it obviously does not apply to law enforcement.
"I'm not worried we're going to lose customers over this," Schultz said. "I feel like I've made the best decision in the interest of our company."
- See this Reuters story
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